President’s Sea Swim Blog # 3

16 May 2023

Sigrid and I are preparing to go to France for a month soon. I will miss the open Orkney Ocean for something a little more tranquil in French South West, dans Le Lot.

It was a jolly good swim on Sunday 16th at Birsay. Nobody else there, just me and the scenery. As I swam, I thought how vital the access road down to The Hall of Clestrain is. We can’t restore our Hall without this Road to The Arctic’ There don’t seem to be grants available for it either just now. It is such a relief that we have had generous donations amounting to well over £20k. Another £530 came in only yesterday. I am hoping that my personal target of £1,111 will be surpassed.

24th April… Birsay Bay. Swimming here is so beautiful. You feel all the stresses of life depart into the cool of the ocean. You get the sense of history and antiquity there, especially if there is nobody about. There is usually a group of dunter ducks and their ducklings paddling in the seaweed for feathered company.

The sand between the toes is a great feeling. It certainly refreshes one’s feet, ready for a day’s hard potting. As we were about to leave, I took the opportunity to throw around 507 mugs. That will keep Nicky and Thomas busy whilst we are off.

Back to Firth Bay for a quick 159 strokes. The Burger Van there is always a temptation. I’m usually out, dried and home before they start serving though. Never mind…

Now we are actually in France! We are staying with Sigrid’s daughter, Ingrid and Son-in-Law, Gilles at Puycalvel. They finished their pool just before our arrival. Wasn’t that good of them.

I swim every day, if I can. The locals say it is far too cold and I must be mad… I don’t mind being mad, I don’t notice. It just feels normal to me.

One evening, whilst swimming in the garden pool, I heard lots of bird-song. It went on and on so beautifully for stroke after stroke. I completely lost count of my tally as the warbling and chirruping continued. Another bird joined in from a tree across the garden. It was the 8th of May as I swam listening.

The joyous sounds continued as Sigrid and I sipped a glass of wine on the terrace. We realised that this could have been nightingales, or maybe one throwing its voice somewhere to the distance? Anyway, it was a wonderful experience. As my tally was lost, I only put down 111 just to be fair.

I am hoping to get into the river Lot by Chateaux Caix. We might even meet Queen Margaretha of Denmark there. If I do, I shall ask for a donation towards our Road to The Arctic. However, she might be at King Charles and Queen Camilla’s Coronation.

Up to the 11th May in six swims, I managed another 1,129 strokes. By my addition the tally is now 4,645 strokes, representing 4,645 miles. Just over half the challenge.

– President of The John Rae Society, Andrew Appleby
Current Miles: 4645
6th Jan – 5th MarPierowall Bay, Bay of Firth, Birsay, and Aikerness1162
9th AprilAikerness66
10th AprilBirsay Bay77
12th April Firth Bay111
14th AprilBirsay Bay133
15th AprilAikerness333
16th AprilFirth Bay444
24th AprilBirsay Bay222
25th AprilFirth Bay159
30th AprilPuycalvel France111
1st MayPuycalvel France111
2nd MayPuycalvel France321
3rd MayPuycalvel France266
5th MayPuycalvel France222
6th MayPuycalvel France255
7th MayPuycalvel France166
8th MayPuycalvel France111
9th MayPuycalvel France123